Imagine a world where your car not only drives itself but makes you safer and also enhances your driving experience. What if it talked to you and said any of the following:
- “The weather is projected to worsen such that it will be unsafe to drive for the next seven hours. A hotel seven miles from here has rooms available. Would you like me to reserve a room and guide you there?”
- “Your friends Eric and Kathy are at a restaurant around the corner. Would you like to call them? Would you like me to navigate you to your friends?”
- “Traffic between here and home is moving slow and your check engine light is on. I can get you a service appointment with a highly rated dealer in 15 minutes. Would you like me to make the service appointment and drive you there?”
Today, more than 37,000 die on American roads in a year, and car accidents are the largest killer of people aged 16 to 24 in the US according to the Association for Safe International Road Travel. “That is the equivalent of nearly two Boeing 747 crashing every week,” says transportation technology evangelist Greg Krueger. “If this were the air industry, we would shut it down. We could do much better.”
Have I done better? Recently, I purchased a new car to replace my five-year-old car and was amazed at the increase in safety features in such a few, short years. I won’t go into all of the IoT-related innovations in my car, only the key ones that have made me a safer driver, despite my not-so-stellar driving habits. Here are a few features in my new car that are also starting to be standard on most new vehicles:
- Rear View Camera – For a short person who used to drive an SUV, this feature is a godsend. I no longer have to worry when I am backing up my car. I can see everything through the camera, and there are even green and red lines to show how close I am to another parked car when I try to squeeze into a tight parking spot in downtown San Francisco.
- Door, Seat, and Tire Pressure Sensors – On a long road trip, knowing if a tire is losing pressure makes for a safer and enjoyable trip. Knowing if a door is ajar and more specifically, the exact door that needs to be closed reduces the need to open and close each and every door in a car. With my luck, it’s always the last door that wasn’t properly closed, so this feature also saves me time.
- Emergency Assist – This feature is optional in my car, but it’s nice to know that if I am in a crash, not only will the multiple sensors in my car determine where the car was impacted but also the severity of the crash. Furthermore, it can analyze the data sent from my car and make recommendations such as if an ambulance needs to be called, a tow truck or just a phone call to make sure everything is okay.
- GPS Navigation – This capability is self-explanatory, but I especially like the feature where it senses upcoming road hazards and indicates the lane where there might be a hazard, like a shredded tire or other road debris.
- Side Mirror Warning Sensors – Do you hate it when a driver cuts you off when you are in their blind spot? Worry no more; my car has sensors on the side, front, and back of the car so if I switch lanes, it will beep to let me know if it’s unsafe because of things like a car in my blind spot or if another car is driving too close for me to safely make the lane change.
- Connected Speakerphone for Mobile Devices – Like most people, I try to be as productive as I can with my time, and that includes when I am in the car. If I need to make a call or if someone calls me while I’m on the road, it’s good to know that through Bluetooth connectivity, using my phone is hands-free. I can talk and listen through the speakers in my car, and the sound quality is second to none.
- Automatic Braking – Once when I was inching up to the crosswalk expecting that the car in front of me would drive forward, my car suddenly braked and stopped. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that my car had determined I was going to collide with the vehicle in front so it stopped the car. While the car in front did move before I arrived and I would not have collided with the car, it’s nice to know that my own car has my back if and when I need it. This is far preferable to the passenger yelling into my ear to stop the car. Trust me on this one.
So to answer the question, yes, I believe I am a safer driver not because I’ve gained more experience over multiple years of driving (this may be true) but more due to the Internet of Things which provides my car with built-in safety features that greatly reduce my chances of getting hurt or worse, hurting someone else. Soon, IoT will make all the other cars, and their drivers safer be it through the connected car with increased safety features, self-driving technology or other innovations that are yet to be invented.
So I’ll let you decide. Do you think I’m a safer driver thanks to IoT? Let’s take a ride to discuss … as long as I’m driving this new car.